Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some Thoughts on Modern Democratic Reform in Canada

does this seem adequate to the task
of deciding the fate of a nation,
all of its policy and finances for 4 years ?
compare this with, say, your cell phone contract.

At one point I was much more active in politics but I still keep an interest and actively read on the topic. Global, national and local issues are staple reading for me through the week. Lately I've been noticing a tremendous amount of scandal. I mean, we all know that most politicians have historically fleeced their constituents for many years. In between we sometimes luck out and a good person will get in and put things in motion that provide ongoing benefits for dozens of years (the establishment of labour laws, civil rights, etc), but on the whole most of them seem to make shady deals that benefit a very few and themselves personally – even if it is after their time in office has expired. Obviously their policy decisions are influenced by this and I would argue that if people were more aware about the way these things happen it would happen less often. When evaluating two candidates for ministry of agriculture would you want a Monsanto shill with obvious conflicts of interest or would you want someone who had at least used a shovel once for something other than taking a picture with it. 

just a small sampling of the sort of conflicts of interest that very often arise in the present system. until recently, with the advent of the internet, this was a big dirty secret in washington. How long can it last now that people are becoming aware, how long will they tolerate such intentional and blatent abuses of the public trust?

While it is obviously futile to make any attempt at changing human nature, something still really bothers me about the 'representative' systems we have today. In Canada, when an election is called, the vast majority of people are already locked into a regular vote. This is usually a result of a persons views and that of their family. Personal finances seem to play a role as well. This is just to say that, my inference is, about 50% or more of the people who vote are going to vote the same as always. In the USA they have a two party system (something George Washington wanted no part of, we may recall), here in Canada we have a multi-party system. What I do not understand at all is why this exists at all. More to the point, once we have elected one of these parties to rule; they set about making pretty arbitrary appointments of their ministers to positions for which they may be largely or entirely unqualified for.

basically stick the face of the party leader on the guy in the middle there and this is how your government will looks when you're voting for it.

I would like to see us in Canada experiment with a one party system. This is no way would limit peoples ability to express their unique political climb, let me explain.

I think that an election ballot should take a few minutes. I believe that party affiliation is an archaic and outmoded method of fraternization. We should be voting on a selection of ministers. Their party affiliation is likely quite evident already regardless. Some people would straight up bitch that they dont want an election to be 'work' for them. I feel quite strongly however that a system that puts more owness on the voter would be a welcome change. In some countries now it is illegal not to register and vote. Here we have the option. I'm not sure the benefits of allowing the population to disregard their civil duty to cast a ballot once ever 4 years or so....

Anyway, so this is how what I'm proposing would work; when an election was called MP's would register to run in their local ridings, but also they would elect a cabinet position that they are interested in, say health. So when a citizen goes to vote they would have to select a candidate for their region as a standard MP, but there would also be lists of people who wanted to portfolios like health, education, etc. The biggest change you would see is that peoples ideas about issues would really get some traction. If there was an election and you had to choose a minister of health it would be very telling; do the regular voting people want a corporate shill doctor ? Do they want someone interested in natural remedy? Is there a problem in healthcare that any one person is actually more qualified to handle than the other. If line-ups are the problem someone with a business management background might be best. If the main issues center around moral dilemmas perhaps someone with a background in philosophy is more appropriate. Yes, this means that people would have to be more familiar with the candidates, but the way it is now you vote for a face and a colour and some broad platform that may or may not come to pass regardless. You know nothing about the ministers, their qualifications (if any), ideas (if any)... and you select no one other than the PM who is simply the leader of the 'party'. While party politics have been a staple of western democracies for hundreds of years as we see with the removal of the 200 year old fillibuster rule – parties themselves can be dangerous to the competent management of a nation. Especially in such polarized political times. The general populace coming to have a greater role in and appreciation of their own governance and affairs cannot be a bad thing ... not for said citizens, at least.

does it help anyone when parties are engaged in riggerous in-fighting instead of really focusing on what is best for citizens with facts and clearly articulated plans ? 

Personally I guess I'm just tired of looking at Government and feeling like none of these fucking people have any clue or qualifications to do almost anything. Many MP's in the western world have traditionally been lawyers. In China they have embraced a more practical theory where most MP's are actually engineers, doctors, people who are relevant to the issues of their region and portfolio. Here we have a pile of new Cons that are former TV personalities acting now as senators, ministers of various sorts.... well what the hell does a TV announcer have to do with being minister of the environment ? There's really no question that if you put it up for a vote to Canadians “Peter Kent or David Susuki for minister of environment” or oceans or anything basically, Kent would never see the political light of day. Conservatives have recruited all these dirtbags just so they could swing votes for their party. Its like if Tom Cruise ran for Mayor of ... well anything. His policies may be non-existant even, but the star power would draw massive votes. This isn't saying that any of these people are bad, or that they have not worked in earnest on things that were important to them or within their capacity to understand. It's just saying that if voters were informed and had the ability to influence cabinet appointments at the ballot box we'd have a much stronger country and would be leading the world again. Canadians are top notch global citizens, but we're often too simple and nice about things that should be taken more seriously.

Peter Kent was a decent enough newsman, does that legitimately qualify him -in any way- to speak to and about environmental issues in the house ? Should his views and opinions on the environment be steering Canada ? No. Do you want someone in that position that is good at handling media and spin if you plan to do a bad job in that department ? Did he score up a bunch of senior citizen votes by being a popular talking head? Yes. Is this the way we should be doing things in the 21st C ?

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